A life not forgotten.

I'd like to say that time makes things easier, but when you had a mom like my mom, time doesn't really change anything.

I still miss her the same. I still think about her the same. I still model my life after her the same. With every milestone I have I still wish she were here to share it with me.

For those that knew my mom, she was a lover of a few things: Her relationship with God, her family, Christmas, the Peanuts, songwriting & playing the piano, Juice Plus, our cabin at Mount Hood, our pets Daisy & Sabrina (and our other cat, Lady), cinnamon rolls & coffee in the morning, the first snow of the year, going on motor home trips, big fireplaces, Timberline Lodge, hosting parties, sitting on the back deck with a BBQ in the summer time, going to Residence Inn to beat the heat when we didn't have air conditioning, house box, studying her Bible, teriyaki chicken at Edo (which is now Sarku), champagne, Mrs. Scarston cookies, homemade crescent rolls, and many, many more. 

If she were here right now we'd probably have PF Chang's take-out (hot & pepper prawns and chicken with black bean sauce), pop open a bottle of Korbel and hang out in our sweats. Those are the times that I miss. 

Happy birthday, mom. We will always love you. 


We made it!

What a whirlwind of an experience. 

We put an offer in for the home we fell in love with on October 4th. 

Three weeks later we faced road-block #1 with the first bank we went with. 

In early November, we switched to a new bank and waited for three weeks to hear whether we were approved or not. 

We found out on Black Friday, November 25th, that our loan was approved but had some contingencies we needed to take care of. 

After taking care of the contingencies, the bank experienced more back-ups and delays with inter-office colds and flus, processing errors and always needing something extra. 

December 12th we found out that we almost weren't going to get the house. We waited and waited and waited, hoping everything would be okay.

December 20th, we found out that it worked out after all and that we'd be able to close on December 23rd, two days before Christmas. 

We loaded up our belongings into boxes, took down our furniture, rented a moving truck and lined up friends to help, only to find out the morning of signing papers that we wouldn't be able to close that day after all (the bank took the day off for the holidays...)

Frustrated and discouraged and with no place to stay over the holidays, we decided to rent a room at a hotel and have our own "mini-Christmas" there before Christmas Eve. On our way to the hotel on the 23rd, we received a call from our real estate agent letting us know that the seller heard what happened to us and felt bad for us and decided to give us our keys early as a Christmas present. We were going to get to move in before Christmas after all!

So, we stayed overnight at the hotel, opened our pathetically wrapped presents (paper bag material and newspapers!), enjoyed coffee with a view of Portland on Christmas Eve morning and then loaded up the bed of a friend's borrowed pick-up with our bed, couch, and of course, Christmas tree. 

We were officially going to be spending Christmas Eve in our new home. 

It's very surreal to think that the first night in our first home was on Christmas Eve, and it was quite the Christmas present to wake up to! We literally had nothing but our bed and one outfit each with us, but we didn't care. We were finally in our home. :)

Friends came over to help move and paint the next day, and then on Tuesday we got the call that our home had recorded meaning we were officially official owners of our home. No more back and forth phone calls, no more bad news, no more roller-coastering, no more exasperation with the bank, no more disappointment... God was faithful and brought us an amazingly beautiful house in a great area and with a great interest rate to boot!

We are settling in comfortably, but discovering that owning a home has its own share of expenses... now that we have our home, it seems like every space needs its own "thing," from drawer organizers to stainless steel step cans, to lamps and curtains, to blinds and garage door openers and everything in between. I have to remind myself that I don't need everything for the house all at once, and I have to be okay that the house probably won't be ready inside for at least a year. :)  

I think one of the best parts about owning a home is that I can play my piano again! 

I think about what the purpose was in going through this and what God was trying to teach us. I know that I failed the patience test many times, and for that I am humbled. It was more that I couldn't deal with the ups and downs every single day, and wanted certainty one way or another. I felt like we lived in ambiguity and limbo for 2 1/2 months, and I just wanted to know what was going to happen. I know God carried us during those times, and I am mad at myself for letting stress take away some of the enjoyment of the fall season since I was checking my email and voicemail nearly 24/7 waiting for updates. 

Throughout the whole process Timothy just said, "no matter what happens, it will be good. If God doesn't want us to have the house, it only means He has something better. And if He lets us get the house, it means it was right for us. Win-win."
He was totally right, and I think I've also learned that I need to trust my husband more. 

Now we can have our friends over again! :)


How do I know if he's the one?

Recently this week I was reading through the blog that Diane Comer (wife of Phil Comer who pastors our old church, Solid Rock) writes called, "He Speaks in the Silence." She shares some beautiful and honest thoughts and encouragement for women (and I suppose men, too), and came across one that caused me to reflect on my own life and my own marriage a lot (as many of her entries do). 

One is particular is called "Q+A: The One" (you can read it here), and is a dialogue about "How do I know if so-and-so is 'the one,'" or "what if I miss 'the one' because I'm too (x, y or z)..." or even, "I just know so-and-so is my soul mate but they don't see it yet. How can I convince them what they're missing out on or should I keep praying that God will change their heart?" 

and finally, the one most women are guilty of:

I just KNOW 'the one' for me has these qualities: 

(here's where you fill in the blank with your preferred features of choice for your future-soul-mate-partner-who-will-adore-you-and-smother-you-with-attention-and-affection-and-be-totally-hot-and-perfect...and did I mention perfect?...)

Here's what my list looked like a few years ago:

  • Tall (like over six feet)
  • Athletic (muscular, buff, football-player-like)
  • Loves to read & write
  • Plays guitar
  • College graduate & ambitious
  • Financially stable & responsible
  • Loves the outdoors
  • Makes me laugh all the time
  • Hot (come on, don't pretend like that isn't important...)
  • Fashionable
  • Cultured
  • Loves to travel
  • Affectionate & compassionate
........among a few other qualities. Basically I turned down anyone I felt like didn't meet the criteria above because they were obviously not "the one" for me.

When T. Love and I went out for the first time, (and I use the term "went out with" loosely, because it definitely was NOT a date. We literally went out to breakfast because we were going to talk middle school teaching tips & tricks), a previous relationship I was in had recently ended and I was no place even close to considering dating someone else. And definitely not someone who didn't make "the list."

What I'm about to say is meant with the most sincerest flattery, respect and admiration, so please don't misinterpret: Going out on a date with T. Love was about the furthest thing from my mind, because he only had a couple of qualities on "the list," and therefore I wasn't interested. He was a nice guy, well-liked by everyone, but kind of annoying and definitely not my type.

However, it wasn't until we sat down, ordered food and began talking that my heart began spinning and twisting inside of me. It was as if I were talking to my future and a new chapter of my life before it had even begun. Slowly, over the course of our dating relationship, qualities from my list were being peeled away and replaced by new ones that I didn't even know I needed. I realized that my previous "list" was created to just be a comfortable extension of myself; it was one in which I knew and could predict and could relate to-- not necessarily one that challenged me to overcome or that taught me things I had never known before.

I didn't know I needed someone who was incredibly tight on the little things financially so that we could afford the big things later on (vacations, furniture, a new home...); I didn't know I needed someone who told me what he was feeling exactly when he was feeling it so there were no games, no confusion, no misunderstandings; I didn't know I needed someone who was just a tiny bit taller than me so I didn't have to strain my neck kissing him; I didn't know I needed someone who can't play any instruments or sing on-key, because he enjoys being blessed by my musical abilities instead; I didn't know I needed someone who doesn't like reading books but instead subscribes to Time Magazine in order to stay up on current events; I didn't know I needed someone who is a brilliant illustrator instead of a brilliant writer so that we could partner together writing books; I didn't know I needed someone who loves the art museum and loves interpreting the meanings behind sculptures and paintings so that I can learn from that too and apply it to my own art-- I thought I just wanted someone who enjoyed three-hour lunches in Paris cafes and who knows a fine wine when he tastes it.

Basically, I had no idea I needed someone like the man I married, because he defied nearly every quality on my "list" (except for a few-- he is definitely affectionate, hot & hilarious!). While I knew he was someone I could spend the rest of my life with, it took marrying him to realize all of the things he had that I didn't even know I needed (which is nearly an every-day discovery!) and to realize that he really was perfect for me.


I write this because I was so guilty in going off of "the list" in every date and relationship I considered. Sometimes, you've gotta go with your gut instinct and if the chemistry or attraction isn't there, it just isn't. However, I'm sure I turned down a handful of guys that could have been really great relationships or even just learning opportunities because I didn't even give them a chance (which I'm of course embarrassed about now...). 

My encouragement to anyone reading this who isn't married is not to just throw your list away; however, don't define what your next relationship is going to be like by your list like I did. Let God surprise you by being open to what might come your way. It's like trying to tell your family members exactly what to get you for your birthday and Christmas, and you won't be happy or enjoy it if you get anything less. In fact, you won't even open the present unless that's what it is. Trust in the fact that God knows you intimately; He knows what you need, He knows what's best for you, and He knows who will fill your heart in marriage someday. Give Him the opportunity to do His work and in the meantime, enjoy the season that you're in because it is definitely a special time that goes quickly. 

I heard someone reference something that John Mark Comer said this year: "The minute you say 'I do,' they become 'the one.'" (or something along those lines). Don't worry about what a soul-mate looks like or not knowing who 'the one' is yet. God does.


Best. Cooking. Website. EVER.

I discovered the goodness that is Mel's Kitchen Cafe over a year ago when my sister started making some incredible homestyle dishes. She spilled her secret and now I'm sharing it with you: Mel's Kitchen Cafe might be your new favorite "it's-Tuesday-and-I-have-no-idea-what-to-make-in-an-hour" fallback. 

I'd like to think it will be your fall-forward, cause her recipes are just that good. 

A couple of my permanent "staple" recipes are for Skillet Lasagne (I sub out the cream cheese) and the Chicken Tortellini Bake (I don't use mushrooms). I've experimented with tons of her other recipes and they have all been as equally delicious. She also typically adds something "unique" so you're not having the same chicken parmesean as everyone else on the block is having. 

She has pre-planned meals, a recipe index of all recipes & categories you might be looking for, and my personal fav, the "BEST of" list... the best mac & cheese recipe, the best brownies, the best lasagne... 

Plus, she just has a super-fun personality and is a stay-at-home mom of four. I also like her "what should I always keep in my kitchen" list... 

Check it out and let me know what you decide to make!


Patience (and Pinterest)

I found this today on Pinterest and it was total conviction with regards to my stress and anxiety during this homebuying process. Love this quote.

Speaking of Pinterest... do you waste time (I mean ahem, "browse for inspiration") on Pinterest as much as I do?

I wouldn't say it's become an addiction, per se... however, I find Pinterest-surfing becoming a part of my nightly computer-time routine. I totally love it for it's practicality and semblance to the ripping-out-of-magazines I used to do (what did I do again with that "ideas" binder? Seemed like a good idea at the time...); however, I have yet to actually scour through my boards and put any of the ideas to good use. 

Until this winter break, of course. 

T and I found out the offer we submitted on our home had been accepted during the first week in October. A week later, we had a lazy extended weekend in Whistler planned where we filled our time doing nothing but watching Canadian design shows and HGTV, along with discovering for the first time the world of "Pinterest."

Pinterest is everything magazine-page-ripping should be, but at the ease of our fingertips. All pages are in one place, easy to find, easy to click on, easy to print / forward / share / "like" / email... well, you get the picture. In this digital need-it-now-and-in-front-of-me-asap age, Pinterest takes the beauty of magazine page ideas and has them accessible like, now. 

Plus, all of my super-stylish and trendy friends that are likeminded with me with design ideas post great ideas and cute clothes to their boards, which I can likewise share with you all as well. It's a great borrow and share and like and post free-for-all. 

Travel, beauty, recipes, quotes, photography ideas, design ideas... the works. 

Plus, you can get a pinterest link embedded in your browser, so the next time you're on realsimple.com and see a great article for DIY guest room design ideas, you can post to your own boards so friends can borrow and share and post to their boards. 

My husband actually loves Pinterest and even told me this afternoon... I'm going to run to the store. Why don't you get some paint color ideas on Pinterest while I'm gone?

You don't have to tell me twice... ;)

PS- Here is a link to my boards if you'd like to check out Pinterest for yourself or see some of the things my friends and I have been "pinning!" 



Since it's been a couple of weeks since I've written, I thought I'd give a few updates about what's been going on in our lives. It seems every day has brought a new adventure and either a new celebration or a new frustration. However, as difficult as it's been for me, I'm trying to figure out how to remain joyful in the small things when the big things seem discouraging. I've been deliberate about not forgetting this holiday and the reason behind it, and not getting too caught up in worry to miss all of the fun happenings this season in Portland has to offer. God is good and He does only good (whether we understand what that "good" looks like or not)... and this is something I've had to remain completely focused on, even when things haven't seemed like they were going the way we wanted them to in our lives.

Update #1: Our loan was approved! After waiting 7 weeks from putting our offer in between two different lenders, we finally were approved through the awesome guys at Infinity Home Loans. Amazing company and amazing employees. The hold up (that I was growing increasingly impatient with) was because dozens of other people in our positions had submitted applications for refinancing or purchasing homes and they were majorly backed up.  It was filled with contingencies, but on that day last week that we received the news we were both majorly excited and ran to Lowe's to start picking out paint samples. :)

Update #2: Our contingencies were approved! We went through major stress this week reading through the list of things we needed to take care of before closing and one we were almost certain we couldn't do. Because of the grace of people at the bank and from God of course, they permitted the particular item holding us up to be removed from the list, so everything else checked out totally fine! That was a huge blessing to us because it would have prevented us from getting the home altogether. Hurdle #2 out of the way!

Update #3: We move in December 15th... but only if the appraisal checks out! This is our last remaining hurdle for this process as appraisals for new construction can be a bit tedious. We'll get the appraisal results next week, then if all goes well, will sign papers for closing and get our keys the 15th-- just in time for Christmas!

Our home is nearly finished with just a few touch-ups remaining overall, and we are totally excited about making it our own. I cannot even begin to believe how incredibly stressful this entire process has been and how unprepared we were for it all. We figured hey, we have money for a down payment, we make enough, we can afford the monthly payment... but no. That's definitely not been enough for financing anymore. I feel like I will finally be able to be excited and relax when the keys are in our hands... but, we're closer than we ever have been to getting our new home!

We've made sure to do fun things around Portland so far this month and had a super fun time Black Friday shopping and spending time in the city over Thanksgiving break. We got our Christmas tree, we stayed downtown at Hotel Monaco for our annual "Christmas in the City" evening (AMAZING hotel!!!), we packed our house a little, ate turkey leftovers for about 6 days... (burritos, soup, sandwiches, pasta... it's amazing what you can do with extra turkey), and slept in. 

We're currently on the hunt for fun and affordable things to do in Portland on the weekends in December... So far we've:

  • Visited a silent auction cookie & coffee party at the Beaverton City Library and won some DVDs
  • Visited Washington Square and listened to carolers
  • Went out to breakfast at Red Star Tavern in downtown Portland
  • Shopped Midnight Madness on Black Friday at Washington Square and saved (literally) over $100... worth it! 
  • Drove around listening to Christmas music in the car and looking at neighborhood Christmas lights

and it's only December 2nd! 

We are some blessed people and we totally know that. We could seriously have so many more things to worry about. 

Buying this house has completely tested us and to be honest, I've probably failed the test 9 out of 10 times. Thankfully I'm married to someone who hasn't, and I feel bad for not being like him most of the time. I feel like that's one of a million reasons why marriage is a good thing-- our spouses show us where we need to do better.

That's probably why they're called our better halves.    

Blogging tips